“Synodality is … the way towards a Church … in a permanent state of a mission. The whole People of God is an agent of the proclamation of the Gospel. Every baptized person is called to be a protagonist of mission since we are all missionary disciples.”
Already, in September 2019, the Association of Catholics in Ireland had presented to the Irish Bishops Conference proposals for the activation of the missionary role of the laity – through heightened recognition of the common priesthood of the people of God and activation of the structures for lay communication and expression promised by Vatican II in Lumen Gentium 37 . We have been assured that these submissions will be included in the documentation to be studied in the synodal pathway process.
ACI Zoom Events on Synodality
In May 2021, almost as soon as the ‘Synodal Pathway’ was announced, ACI launched a series of online discussions, via Zoom, on the theme of Synodality. These have continued in 2022 and are listed below, beginning with the most recent:
ACI Synodal Gathering – A Zoom conference of members and supporters – to compile reactions to the synodal process so far, under the headings of the joys, hopes, fears, anxieties experienced by nearly seventy participants, for synthesis and submission to the Irish Bishops Conference, in preparation for the 2023 Vatican Synod of Bishops on the theme of Synodality. This event was invaluable in compiling the Synthesis reported to the bishops on May 29th, 2022. (5th May, 2022)
Human Rights and the Challenges for the Church – Professor Linda Hogan outlines the church’s contradictory attitudes towards the principle of human rights in the past and identifies three ‘chilling’ current internal failings. Unjust toward women, alienating and insensitive in some of its language on sexual and gender issues, and lacking respect for just process in the CDF’s handling of theological dissent, the church needs to address such anomalies if documents such as Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium are to be taken as seriously as they deserve in their advocacy for social equality. (24th March, 2022) (Video recording now available.)
Towards a Synodal Pathway for the Irish Catholic Church – Dr Nicola Brady, chair of the Irish Synodal Pathway Steering Committee, outlines synodality as a spiritual practice aimed at the rebuilding of relationships in the wake of scandal, shock, pandemic and whatever else is coming our way! Everyone has a role and everyone is needed – and no one needs to wait for a formal Synodality event to jump in. (24th February, 2022)
Synodality, the Parish and Climate Change – To be relevant to younger generations ‘walking together’ must address the growing climate crisis at parish level – and with an ecumenical dimension. Our best-attended Zoom so far was supported by the ACP – the Association of Catholic Priests. (27th Jan, 2022)
‘Continuously Searching‘ – Tom Inglis, the sociologist who wrote ‘Moral Monopoly: Rise and Fall of the Catholic Church in Modern Ireland‘ (1987), outlined for ACI his state of mind in retirement. Designating himself some kind of Catholic because no other description quite fits, he gave us invaluable insight into a key group among the marginalised – those alienated from authoritarianism and the naive unquestioning ‘faith’ that is more a form of religious chauvinism (aren’t we Irish Catholics marvellous?) than true to the Gospels. (Nov 25th, 2021) A video of Tom’s complete talk is clickable from this page.)
LGBTQ Catholics and the Church – Kate Moynihan of LINC described the often traumatic experience of growing up in the church as a member of a minority whose lives have often been made miserable by official church pronouncements. (October 28th, 2021)
Empowering Women in the Church Rose O’Connor of Limerick diocese outlined the Limerick synodal process – where she chaired the women’s forum for change – and led a discussion on the need for barrier-breaking in Ireland’s ‘synodal pathway’. (September 30th, 2021)
Synodality a Call to Everyone – Professor Tom O’Loughlin explained the time-limited separation of the People of God into clergy, religious and laity that accompanied and followed the adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire in the fourth century. Synodality involves a recognition of the need for a changed missionary relationship of mutual support and understanding in a completely new era. [July 22nd, 2021]
Synodality a Challenge to Canon Law – Fr Brendan Hoban described the listening process in Killala Diocese begun in 2019 – and now set decisively on a path towards a consensual and family-focused model of parish governance. [June 24th, 2021]
Australia’s ‘Plenary Council’ – David Timbs outlined the background to an Australian Church Assembly scheduled for 2021, and his hopes and fears for that. [May 20th, 2021]
Now planning future events in the same series, we welcome suggestions for those.
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